In the US we supposedly: prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age in hiring, promoting, firing, setting wages, testing, training, apprenticeship, and all other terms and conditions of employment.
"even in fields in which looks have no obvious relationship to professional duties. … For lawyers"
For trial lawyers, looks definitely have a relationship to professional duties.
"I was in The City and out of The Suburbs. It is always startling how much better looking people are in The City, and how much looks matter there. These same good-looking people are left-wing Democrats"
I'm guessing "The Suburbs" you're talking about are (very) lower middle class at best. Also, you're probably confusing youth with attractiveness; the percentage of attractive people declines significantly with age. A pretty solid majority of the really attractive women in their 20s I know or work with lean pretty solidly democrat; the ratio reverses dramatically for really attractive 45+ women.
"We aren’t much interested in banning looks-based discrimination, though the evidence for bias there is as strong as anywhere"
I don't know whether that can ever happen, but you'd need to give it time in any case. Explicit racial discrimination was only outlawed fairly recently, and even now we live in one of the few cultures that regards racial discrimination as wrong or even abnormal.
I don't think that's what he said. He said:
" Instead it seems more likely that recent cultural [i.e., media, academic, law] elites preferred to discourage the types of discrimination that favored their cultural/political rivals, while retaining the types that favored them, their existing allies, or natural “enemy of my enemy” allies. "
Which would be more accurately translated to: "cultural elites consider black and gay people to be their allies." Which is certainly true, and good! I don't think this post is advocating that they shouldn't; rather that they should, by their own logic, also consider unattractive, fat, short, asymmetrical people their allies as well, since they too experience extensive discrimination.
i'd like to see somewhat more complex models played with. beware of binary instead of polymodal models.
Why only serve the people who support you already, rather than potential people who might support you, like the ugly? Most likely is that people identifying as members of the protected groups (they have little choice) can coordinate to exchange their political power for status and protection from discrimination. But nobody publicly identifies as 'ugly' because it looks bad, and so there's no way for them to lobby or organise to get the protection they would benefit from.
Robin, I am surprised you don't notice the problem with mentioning "today". Mightn't one expect that by prohibiting some kind of discrimination will result in support* from a group, and so your theory would not have been able to predict in advance which groups it would apply to?
*That actually seems rather weak in the case of blacks, who don't necessarily hold many of the other values of the cultural elite. They do vote Dem (expected from the poor anyway), but so did southern whites! The actual effect of V.R.A gerrymandering and the end of the "solid south" has been to benefit the Republican party (which I believe gave more support to the C.R.A at the time).
Since cultural elites' main competition were varieties of what we now call red-state whites it makes sense that they supported anti-discrimination laws as a way of building a coalition against the older, more traditional white median voter.
In addition, the general trend towards making physical violence illegal or immoral preserves the privileges of cognitive elites who are good at verbal and legal persuasion and coercion. The whole trend in modern society that favors state based law and bureaucracy and just plain talk over more traditional forms of conflict and control matches the shift in elite power from the warrior leader to the politician persuader.
You may want to consider historical facts such as slavery and Jim Crow. The Civil Rights Act wasn't passed in a vacuum.
It's an interesting question as to what makes the normal kinds of discrimination troubling and continued racial/sexual inequality problematic while the equally undeserved disadvantages faced by the set of unlucky people or children of alcoholics, problem gamblers or the like don't seem as harmful. I mean for some reason we seem to think it's a significant social failure that statistically black children go to worse schools and have fewer opportunities even though some children will always go to the worst schools and have the least resources through no fault of their own. I mean presumably the welfare of blacks and whites are equally important so other things being equal things are no worse if blacks tend to be worse off than whites provided the overall proportions of rich and poor aren't altered.
While counterintuitive I think the answer is simple. It's the awareness and reactions to racial inequality that actually account for the harms. If we simply couldn't percieve race it would make no difference if race correlated with welfare. The problem is that people strongly identify with their race, ethnicity or gender and hence experience outrage, anger and fear of unfair treatment when they notice racial inequality. Moreover, this awareness exacerbates racial tensions.
This suggests, therefore, that we should be most inclined to regulate discriminatory behavior or address inequality when people strongly identify with the groups in question so race, gender and religion are likely canidates while in the US height and looks are not. Our families and friends often share our race and religion but aren't always the same height as us or as good/bad looking so we interpret inequality here as less of a threat to our 'tribe' (gender is a bit more complicated but similar).
This also suggests it is those activities which intuitively strike us as inflicting harm on members of our tribe that would be the best to regulate. Being denied a job provokes a strong empathetic response in us, being unable to hire someone does not. Similarly marriage based choices don't tend to strike us as inflicting a harm. It's sad when someone turns your friend down for a date but as long as they do so nicely it doesn't strike us as if they had been attacked.
One thing to note is that while some aspects of people's response to appearance appears to be genetic or nearly universal, a great deal of it is affected by social fashions. The dominant social fashion in appearance has historically been that any aspect of your appearance which makes you look more like the elite is considered attractive. It may be that cultural elites will *always* be considered more attractive, almost by definition. Today's ugly would become tomorrow's pretty, if entrance to the elite were encouraged for the ugly and denied for the good looking.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that many, many young people applying to enroll in our most-competitive universities would be happy to check off a box describing themselves as "appearance disadvantaged," if it were to result in them receiving preferential treatment (aka affirmative action) in the selection process. Likewise, they would be happy to check that box if it made them more eligible for financial aide. Does anyone disagree? Now, one might think that people could be dissuaded from such tricks if they had to pass some kind of ugliness test. But that could underestimating the creative options to achieve ugliness. Here's one relevant link: http://www.chinadaily.com.c... Law of unintended consequences?
The entire way we think about human attributes in the first place is screwed up. When it comes to discrimination laws (not speech, which should receive no special restrictions except for security [fire in the theater, etc.]), we should throw out the giant lists of individual inherent qualities and use only a behavior system. You can only discriminate against people whose behavior violates the harm principle or who will put you in danger (like not allowing them into your store if they have a known communicable disease). The whole "you can't discriminate against this group or that group" list-method is unwieldy and silly.
It is usually easy to determine minorities. It would be a far more unpleasant and complicated process to label ugly people as such, so as to then enforce antidiscrimination laws in their favor. Perhaps that first step is too unappealing to both those being discriminated against and those who would champion/ enforce such laws, for it to be successful social policy.
Also, I imagine that few ugly people would recognise themselves as ugly and consequently, may not even appreciate that such a policy is to their benefit.
Well, at least laws against lookism still have a better chance than laws banning discrimination against (high-functioning) autistics...
Are you arguing that the Left only codified anti-discrimination rights for some group because those group would then support the Left in future elections? And our evidence for this is that those groups now support the Left?
If so, why didn't the Left support protections for the unattractive in the hopes of winning their support?
Yes, the lack of protections for the unattractive, the socially awkward, and the unconventional seems very difficult to reconcile philosophically with the protections given to other groups, but I see little evidence that the laws directly served the elite proponents or their allies.
I despair of finding a way to see our general pattern of which discriminations we allow as an application of some general moral principle.Um, why would you expect to find such a thing?
Our antidiscrimination laws are the product of historical and political processes, and as such there is no particular reason to think they are based on some prior abstract principle, any more than the original discrimination they are intended to remedy was.
So in other words, this is post 3,202 in a series indicating that although people who disagree with you claim to have moral principles, they are actually just self-serving hypocrites. At this point I'm curious: is there anyone in this world who is truly principled? Other than yourself, that is?